Wyoming news briefs for December 30

Man swallows drugs during traffic stop Tuesday

GILLETTE — A man swallowed an unknown quantity of drugs he later claimed to be meth and fentanyl during a traffic stop in Gillette on Tuesday afternoon.

Officers pulled over his 2002 Honda for running a stop sign near Butler-Spaeth Road and Pintail Drive. The 31-year-old driver and his passenger, 36, both appeared nervous, said Police Lt. Brent Wasson.

The passenger gave officers a fake name, but they knew who he was and learned that he had an active city warrant. While being arrested on the warrant, he was found with 2 grams of meth and 6 grams of marijuana, Wasson said.

He was additionally charged with misdemeanor possession for each drug.

The driver was found to have a Goshen County warrant for failing to appear in court for an interference charge. 

During the stop, the man put the drugs in his mouth and swallowed them, later telling officers the drugs were meth and fentanyl, Wasson said.

He was taken to the hospital, treated, released, charged with possession of the drugs he swallowed and taken to jail, said Police Cpl. Steve Dillard.


Two in custody after chase in Casper

CASPER — Police ended a roughly four-hour negotiation with two adults peacefully on Wednesday morning, following a chase that ended with the pair crashing their truck. 

The encounter closed a section of East Yellowstone Highway in north Casper for several hours early on Wednesday. The man and woman, according to police, were taken to Wyoming Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries around 7 a.m. 

The unidentified man and woman face charges in Evansville of eluding police and property damage, both felonies, as well as reckless driving, driving without a license and entering a highway outside controlled access points. 

Officers were attempting to pull over the adult man and woman around 2:45 a.m. near East Fifth and South Jefferson streets after noticing there were no lights on a trailer attached to the truck. Both vehicles were reportedly found to be stolen after a check by police. 

The pair drove away from the stop, and Casper police followed the flatbed Ford truck before crossing into Evansville, where local police took over the pursuit. The pair crossed back into Casper before crashing and overturning in the 2300 block of East Yellowstone. 

Evansville Police Chief Mike Thompson said that during the roughly 15-minute pursuit, the pair drove the wrong way on I-25 and multiple off-ramps, speeding on the highway and crossing into a ditch at one point to avoid being hit by oncoming traffic. 

The truck hit a parked Nissan van in Evansville, causing around $8,000 worth of damage. It also crashed into a light pole in Casper. 

The man and woman reportedly stayed in the truck after it turned on its side and fired at least two gunshots from inside when Evansville police tried to approach. 


Band played on through Jackson Hole Mountain Resort power loss

JACKSON  The Tram Jam band at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort played for an empty line Wednesday as the Bridger Gondola remained closed throughout the day due to a power outage.

“We still have our power,” said frontman Peter “Chanman” Chandler, unfazed by the weather and operations struggle.

“The show must go on!” shouted drummer and vocalist Andy Peterson.

But according to Lower Valley Energy, which is still investigating the incident, the power failure that started around 8 p.m. Tuesday evening impacted lifts across the mountain.

Ski patrol was barely able to open the resort on time, said Jackson Hole spokesman Eric Seymour, and the Bridger and Sweetwater gondolas remained closed into the afternoon. The Marmot Double and Teton Quad were also closed, temporarily forcing over an hour wait for the Aerial Tram, which remained open all day.

Seymour thanked guests for their patience, adding: “It’s definitely not ideal for us. That’s not the experience that we are looking to provide. Sometimes power outages happen.”

With energy and resort staff racing to restore power on Wednesday, some lifts came back online by mid-afternoon, including Teton and Sweetwater.

Wait times for the Aerial Tram reduced to 30 minutes, and the other lifts ran smoothly.

Lower Valley Energy and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort operations staff worked through the night to successfully restore power by Thursday morning, according to Seymour, and the resort planned to open all lifts by 9 a.m.


New travel centers look to open during first quarter of 2022

WORLAND — Both travel centers under construction in Worland are set to open the first part of 2022, if all goes well. 

Chris Gross, Big Horn Cooperative marketing director, said work is proceeding but did not have an exact opening date for the new travel center that replaces the former One Stop convenience store at 440 Big Horn Avenue. 

“We are hoping for March,” he said. 

Construction began in the middle of the year and the old convenience store was closed down in August and demolished to make additional room for the new travel center. 

The new convenience store is 8,000 square feet, compared to the old store that was 2,500 square feet. 

There will be showers available for truckers and better overnight parking for trucks. 

The new Pit Stop is at the former Reese & Ray’s IGA on 10th Street. Bailey Enterprises purchased the building from Eaglecav on Dec. 22, 2020.

“By the middle of January we hope to have the pumps going and everything inside except the hot food items. We’re in the process now of tearing down the old liquor store,” Pit Stop and Bailey Enterprises owner Mike Bailey said Monday. The liquor store in the newly renovated area has been open for about two weeks. 

Bailey noted the hot food is not an A&W as has been rumored.

There will be 11 fuel stations when construction is complete and the diesel stations will have DEF available. Bailey said there is still about 8,000 square feet available for lease on the north side of the building, for a business or businesses that would complement the convenience store/ liquor store/gas station facility. 

Applications for various positions at the travel center are now being accepted.